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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Any difference? Use of a CAM provider among cancer patients, coronary heart disease (CHD) patients and individuals with no cancer/CHD

Agnete E Kristoffersen*, Arne J Norheim and Vinjar M Fønnebø

Author Affiliations

Department of Community Medicine, National research center in complementary and alternative medicine (NAFKAM), Tromsø, Norway

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-1

Published: 12 January 2012



Although use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among cancer patients has been described previously, prevalence of use has not commonly been compared to other disease groups in a true population sample where CAM use or cancer is not the main focus. The aims of the present study are to (1) examine how CAM use in cancer patients differs from people with a previous CHD diagnosis and people with no cancer or CHD diagnosis in an unselected general population and (2), investigate the use of a CAM provider among individuals with a previous cancer diagnosis.


A total of 8040 men and women aged 29 to 87 in the city of Tromsø, Norway filled in a questionnaire developed specifically for the Tromsø V study with questions on life style and health issues. Visits to a CAM provider within the last 12 months and information on cancer, heart attack and angina pectoris (heart cramp) were among the questions. 1449 respondents were excluded from the analyses.


Among the 6591 analysed respondents 331 had a prior cancer diagnosis, of whom 7.9% reported to have seen a CAM provider within the last 12 months. This did not differ significantly from neither the CHD group (6.4%, p = 0.402) nor the no cancer/CHD group (9.5%, p = 0.325).


According to this study, the proportion of cancer patients seeing a CAM provider was not statistically significantly different from patients with CHD or individuals without cancer or CHD.